Arizona Golf Courses AZGA Guide: Tom Weiskopf, who has established himself as one of the world’s foremost course architects, has created some of the best layouts on some of the most beautiful land you can find in the state of Arizona, but even he was blown away the first time he toured the property that would become Seven Canyons. What he carved out here is a masterpiece on a 200-acre facility encompassed by the stunning red rock formations of Sedona and 100,000 acres of the protected Coconino National Forest.
In fact, the former British Open and U.S. Senior Open champion was so captivated, he visited the site more than 40 times during construction. “The design of Seven Canyons was a labor of love,” Weiskopf said.
“When I first saw the property, it took my breath away. Words don’t do it justice. The challenge was to create a golf course that looked like it had been there for a hundred years, and that was the most compelling reason I accepted the assignment. I can confidently say it is as good and dramatic a golf course site as I have ever had to work with in Arizona.”
Among other things, this course has been dubbed “The IMAX of Golf” and “Seventh Heaven” by various golf magazines.It was created as a private course, but due to a sagging economy and the financial strains that followed, Seven Canyons began offering public play in 2010, presenting golfers with a rare opportunity to tee it up on this exclusive and enchanting layout. The club continues to use a temporary clubhouse, but course conditions are first rate.
While the overall property is sprawling, Weiskopf had limited land with which to build the course that opened in 2003. But, working without any drawings, he made the most of it and created a memorable test that plays at just 6,745 yards from the tips. The par-70 layout has seven sets of tees, with the shortest at 4,986 yards, and it is rated at 71.1 with a slope of 139 from the back tees.
There are just two par-5 holes and Weiskopf purposely shaped some of the par-4’s to dissuade accomplished golfers from hitting drivers off the tees. One rarity is that the par-5 holes, at 591 and 500 yards, are the Nos. 1 and 2 handicap holes. Perhaps the most memorable hole is the par-3 sixth, which is the No.3 handicap hole, and is a near duplicate of the famous par-3 16th at Augusta National.
One Weiskopf trademark is creating holes reminiscent of his favorites as a PGA Tour player. Another is risk-reward holes, and there are several of those, including the 12th, a drivable par 4 that measures 305 yards from the back tee. Technology has created an arms race in golf that seems to dictate that “longer is better” when it comes to course design, but Weiskopf bucked that trend with a layout reminiscent of classic 1970s courses.
Instead of length, it puts a premium on shot-making with small greens, narrow landing areas, classic-style bunkering, mature trees, natural water features and constant elevation changes. Making it all the better is that the routing fits like a glove into the natural terrain, the course is walkable and it is one very enjoyable walk.
It’s “All Things Arizona Golf” from the Arizona Golf Authority.